Bangladesh ended their last ODI in 2018 in perfect fashion, winning the third game and the series against West Indies by a comprehensive eight-wicket margin and making Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's Bangladesh-record 70th match as captain an auspicious one yesterday.
The picturesque Sylhet International Stadium's inaugural ODI also produced a performance that would raise hopes of Bangladesh's shaky top order finally taking shape in the run-up to next summer's World Cup in England.
The Tigers' chase of a sub-par 199 -- set up by Mehedi Hasan Miraz's career-best figures of four for 29 -- on a good batting wicket was powered by a 131-run second-wicket stand between star opener Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, promoted to number three in place of the dropped Imrul Kayes.
While Tamim scoring 81 off 104 is nothing surprising, Soumya's continuation of the good form he displayed with a ton in the third ODI against Zimbabwe in October is a promising sign that there may finally be some consistency to match Tamim's.
Soumya hit five sixes and as many fours in a blistering 81-ball 80 before being bowled by Keemo Paul with the score on 176 in the 36th over. Mushfiqur Rahim then came in and kept Tamim company as the left-hander hit a brace of boundaries to take Bangladesh home with 69 balls to spare.
It sealed a series by a 2-1 margin during which West Indies were generally outclassed by the hosts. The only exception to that was Shai Hope, who hit a match-winning century in the second game and hit another unbeaten ton, 108 off 131 balls, yesterday.
Liton Das and Tamim got the chase off to a rapid start as the dusktime dew started quickening up the wicket. Liton was batting fluently and hit five boundaries in the first 10 overs, but got himself out trying to hit a sixth one over the head of mid on against Keemo Paul and being caught for 23 in the first ball of the 11th over, ending a 45-run opening stand.
West Indies' chances took a major hit at the end of that over as pacer Kemar Roach limped off, clutching at his hamstring, and did not return for the rest of the match and has been ruled out of the following T20I series starting on December 17.
There was at least one boundary every over from the 13th till the 18th, off which Tamim hit a four and Soumya a six off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.
While Soumya took the odd risk, Tamim exemplified responsible batting. He hit five boundaries along the ground before his first lofted shot in the 24th over when he swept Bishoo for a four over short fine leg. That shot also brought up his 43rd ODI fifty off 62 deliveries. Soumya reached his seventh half-century with a single, also off his 62nd delivery, in the 30th over.
He then went on a rampage, hitting three sixes and two fours and racing past Tamim.
Earlier, West Indies' innings was the latest example of their lack of ability to bat in these conditions, with the obvious and shining exception of Hope. The opener has now batted for 99.4 overs across the last two matches without offering a single chance to the Bangladesh bowlers.
It was the off-spin of Mehedi that broke West Indian's backs. Mehedi started by dispatching opener Chanderpaul Hemraj, who was caught at backward point in the fourth over. Hope was batting untroubled at the other end.
It was all up to Hope, who attempted to wage another lone battle. He focused on getting the total as near 200 as possible. Keemo Paul and Kemar Roach -- both dismissed by Mashrafe in the 44th and 46th overs respectively -- kept Hope company as the batsman reached his fourth ODI hundred with a six off Shakib off his 121st delivery.